A Beginner’s Guide To The Whanganui Journey In New Zealand

33 min


From rapids and canoeing to experiencing untamed nature firsthand these are simply a few of the belongings you’ll expertise in your Whanganui Journey In New Zealand.

whanganui journey new zealand

Benefit from the sights on the Whanganui Journey.

New Zealand has turn out to be a mecca for out of doors adventurers.

We’ve by no means been wherever on this planet the place’s it’s really easy to get out into the wilderness independently.

Need to canoe down an exquisite and distant stretch of river for 5 days and not using a information? Certain.

No expertise in canoeing?

No worries – the particular person you hire the canoe from gives you a number of pointers earlier than you set off.

Seems like your type of journey?

Right here’s every thing you’ll want to find out about paddling the Whanganui Journey, one of many 9 Nice Walks of New Zealand.

Introduction To Paddling the Whanganui Journey

 Set within the coronary heart of the North Island, the Whanganui Journey is a 145 km canoe journey down the Whanganui River.

It gained Nice Stroll standing for being a major Maori journey and it’s the one Nice Stroll the place you’ll be able to keep in a Marae (a standard assembly floor and point of interest for Maori communities).

While the complete 145 km journey takes 5 days, if this sounds prefer it’s a bit a lot you’ll be able to paddle probably the most lovely part in simply three days (a complete of 87 km).

There are a number of campsites and huts (and even one lodge) that you would be able to keep at alongside the best way.

In the event you like solitude you’ll be able to select the campsites that differ from the principle route that most individuals take, that we’ll define under.

There are a number of firms who can organise every thing together with canoe rent, dry barrels for all of your garments and meals, transfers to and from the ‘monitor’, and a full briefing on the route and situations on the river.

While there are a few infamous rapids (one nicknamed the 50/50 for apparent causes) on the route it’s attainable even for inexperienced persons to handle the complete 5 days.

Till the Whanganui Journey, the longest we had ever kayaked for was two hours, so we undoubtedly consider it’s attainable for anybody with a way of journey to handle.

Nearly all of the journey is on flat, placid water or small rapids and also you spend about 5 hours paddling per day.

You quickly get into a gentle rhythm and the time goes rapidly as you are taking within the views and revel in a really distinctive expertise.

canoeing, New Zealand,Whanganui journey

Absorb the sights while canoeing

Whanganui Journey Overview

Days required: 3 – 5

You begin from Taumarunui to do the 5 day model, or Whakahoro for the three day model.

Greatest Time To Do It

The New Zealand summer season is the most effective time for hotter temperatures and extra secure climate (some firms cease working within the winter, if you happen to fall in it’s going to be freeeezing).

We’d suggest avoiding the college and public holidays as it will probably get busy.

The official Nice Walks season runs from 1st October to 30th April.


This may fluctuate relying on which firm you utilize, however – like most of New Zealand – it isn’t low cost.

Canoe rent begins at $180 NZD per particular person for the three day model and $190 NZD per particular person for the 5 day model (this contains barrels, transfers, life jackets, paddles, emergency beacon, maps and a briefing).


Most individuals keep within the DOC administered campsites and huts, though there are two lodge choices to your second and fourth night time if you happen to select.

The campsites and huts are pretty primary, with the campsites providing working water (which must be purified) and lengthy drop bathrooms.

The huts supply these in addition to fuel stoves and bunks.

The associated fee is between $20 – 32 NZD per particular person per night time (with tenting being the cheaper of the 2) between October and April.

If you wish to deal with your self on the final night time of the journey there’s additionally a stunning lodge with sizzling showers and free home made muffins.

We have been so pleased that we determined to go for a bit lux after 4 stable days paddling, two of which had been in torrential rain.

Much less individuals know that you would be able to additionally keep within the Blue Duck Station on night time two if you want a non-public room.


There are a few cafes alongside the best way (day one and two), however apart from that you will want to carry all your meals.

This may be packed in barrels that are tied to the canoe, you’ll want meals that may hold outdoors of a fridge for as much as 5 days.

We’d suggest cereal bars or porridge for breakfast, snacks for lunch and packet meals like pasta for dinner (we loved pesto pasta with cheese for dinner most nights).

Canoe Corporations

 There are three firms that may assist with the logistics of the Whanganui Journey and there’s not a lot distinction between them.

We selected Whanaganui River Canoes based mostly in Raetihi, however alternatively there’s Tauamrauni Canoe Hire in Taumraruni or Yeti Canoes in Ohakune.

Which firm you select could rely upon which space you wish to keep in earlier than and after your journey which was our motive for selecting Whanganui Rivers Canoes.


The primary two days have a succession of fairly quick rapids, however there is just one the place you may get thrown out.

We got here shut however managed to simply about keep in, so falling out remains to be fairly unlikely.

The third and fourth days are as flat as they arrive, minus one whirlpool in the beginning of day three.

We did see somebody tip right here however apparently this isn’t widespread.

It’s the last day which has the thrilling rapids with two on the very finish that are so bumpy that 50% of individuals come out of their canoe.

Nonetheless, a lot of the quicker rapids are slim, that means you’ll be able to paddle to the facet and keep away from the worst of them if you wish to (however then you definitely’ll be lacking out on a few of the enjoyable!).

What To Pack

  • Rain Coats
  • Thermals
  • Meals: Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and tea/espresso
  • Rest room Paper (not one of the huts or campsites have this)
  • Fuel burner and matches for the camp websites
  • Ingesting water – no less than for the beginning. Afterwards you’ll must boil some water or use purification tablets
  • A tenting kitchen set – pot to boil, plate, cutlery and mug
  • A heat sleeping bag (even in summer season it will probably drop to single digits)
  • Battery pack to cost digicam batteries
  • Ear plugs/head telephones – You haven’t skilled loud night breathing till you’ve stayed in a DOC hut
  • Solar cream and bug repellent
  • Torch
  • Garbage baggage – All that you just soak up, should exit with you
  • Moist wipes – To maintain a semblance of hygiene
We suggest stocking up on all your journey gear from the wonderful firm Kathmandu. They’ve shops throughout New Zealand.

 The Whanganui Journey Itinerary

 Day 1: Taumaranui to Ohinepane, 22km (about 3.5 hours)

 Not too many individuals select to do the five-day model, skipping the primary two days and beginning at Whakahoro.

This implies you’re more likely to have these stretches of river all to your self, and that makes it fairly particular.

The primary day is brief, however it definitely helps you to begin with a bang.

The Nice Walks information describes it merely as “a day of rapids”!

We have been novices when it got here to canoeing, so have been fairly nervous about even controlling the canoe, not to mention navigating the rapids.

Within the first 4 bends you face two fairly turbulent rapids that throw you round, baptizing you within the Whanganui River.

After the preliminary bumps, issues get a bit simpler and extra simple.

There are many quick rapids on corners to maintain the thrill up and also you’ll do properly if you happen to don’t get caught within the eddys (the opposite facet of a fast which flows in the other way to the river, spinning you round).

It’s honest to say we spent a good period of time on day one and two spinning uncontrollably however at all times being spat out ultimately!

The river right here is primarily via the farmlands and rolling hills, it feels such as you’re gliding via Hobbiton.

It’s a enjoyable stretch of paddling with some lovely landscapes which can be punctuated with some rapids for pleasure.

A high tip is to look out for the lavender farm (there’s a small signal) on the right-hand facet of the river, round 18 km in.

There’s a small sandbank to moor at and a stairway main as much as the farm.

They’ve a espresso store right here which makes for a blissful break.

They don’t settle for international playing cards, so ensure you carry money.

The home made muffins have been scrumptious.

After 3.5 hours of paddling you’ll make it to Ohinepane Campsite.

The native chickens are somewhat over pleasant and can be pecking round your tent a lot of the night time earlier than waking you up very first thing within the morning! It’s a stunning spot although, with a small cooking space and bathroom.

Whanganui journey, canoe

Benefit from the canoe trip

Day 2: Ohinepane – Whakahoro, 35km (about 5.5 hours)

 The second day could have modified lately, however once we paddled (in April 2018) there had been an enormous storm which created many slips within the space.

This meant that bushes had come down from the tops of the valley into the river, creating extra obstacles.

This may increasingly have modified since, however be ready for this part to have extra obstacles than the maps will present!

As you set off, you’re confronted with a biggish fast to ease you into the day!

The remainder of the day may have fairly a number of rapids to hurry you alongside and hold issues attention-grabbing.

You move by much more lovely surroundings and you’re feeling like you might be starting to move away from civilization.

The second half of the day is the part that results in Whakahoro and requires probably the most consideration as a number of bushes have fallen into the river and lodged there.

This in flip created rapids that flowed via them and – if you happen to’re not cautious – may take you straight right into a tree.

You’ll should be ready to paddle very onerous as quickly as you see them.

The day finishes at Whakahoro: a campsite and bunkhouse that’s 400m up a steep hill!

Lugging the barrels up had nearly everybody cursing the situation, however as soon as there it’s a really attractive spot.

Nonetheless, the most important reward is the Blue Duck Station, a guesthouse the place you’ll be able to pay for a sizzling bathe ($4NZD) and dig into piping sizzling meals (together with bacon and egg brekkies) and sizzling drinks.

Pop alongside as quickly as you’ll be able to because the dinner (served communal model) does require reserving.

It’s just some minutes from the campsite to the Blue Duck.

The Whakahoro is the most effective campsite on the Whanganui Journey, set on the highest of a cliff amongst farmland wanting right down to the Whanganui River. It’s a very picturesque vantage level.

campsite, Whanganui journey

The campsite

Day 3: Whakahoro – John Coull Hut, 37.5km (about 5.5 hours)

 Day three is the place the surroundings steps up a gear as you enter the Whanganui Gorge and the beginning of the Nationwide Park.

That is when all highway entry stops and also you really enter the wilderness.

Instantly you’ll be dwarfed by big cliffs both facet of you, the one sounds are that of your paddle and the early morning chook tune.

Whakahoro is the place most individuals begin the Whanganui Journey, selecting to keep away from the rapids of the primary two days.

Nonetheless, these rapids have been good coaching for what can be approaching day 5!

The part from Whakahoro to John Coull isn’t just very picturesque, it is usually an extremely calm part of the river.

At factors we selected to cease paddling totally, drifting in full silence and taking in our environment.

In the event you’ve had rain there can be loads of waterfalls on this stretch.

The one impediment to navigate is a whirlpool that goals to propel you right into a cave!

As long as you paddle onerous and huge, you’ll be okay.

We tried this and cleared it safely (properly, aside from being spun backwards).

Because the river may be very nonetheless, day three requires much more paddling and energy than the primary two.

It’s only when you may have a totally nonetheless river that you just realise how a lot the fast-flowing rapids truly helped!

That is the primary level that you would be able to select to remain in a hut relatively than tenting.


Maintain your eyes open and benefit from the nature

Day 4: John Coull Hut – Bridge to Nowhere Lodge, 29km (about 5 hours)

 Day 4 was our favourite day of the entire of the Whanganui Journey.

There’s an opportunity to cease on the mysterious Bridge to Nowhere, the surroundings is gorgeous and if you happen to determined to deal with your self, there’s the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge (extra on that later).

The day began with two hours of heavy rain (commonplace in NZ) paddling via the thick soupy water to the touchdown for the Bridge to Nowhere stroll.

We’d suggest going early as this can be a in style day journey within the space (you’ll be able to take a jet boat to it from a city additional up the river), so that you’ll wish to keep away from the crowds and have the ability to discover mooring to your canoe.

After a brief stroll you’ll get to the Bridge to Nowhere –fairly actually what it says on the tin. It’s a remnant of a venture to carry entry for automobiles to the Whanganui River and help the constructing of a settlement for returned troopers from the First World Warfare.

Nonetheless, the land was not conducive for farming and settlement, and it was deserted.

The bridge remained, it’s now lined in ferns and regenerated bushland.

It’s a very spectacular sight and to not be missed.

You’ll be able to stroll throughout it or take it in from the perspective above.

We actually loved getting out of the canoe and exploring this space.

Simply ensure you carry some sneakers that do properly in mud. Flip flops could be difficult alongside this path after rain.

After the Bridge to Nowhere it’s a mild three-hour paddle to your lodging for the day.

In the event you go together with the DOC decisions, you’ll be able to camp or keep at a standard Marae.

Right here you’ll be able to expertise a glimpse of the indigenous tradition of New Zealand.

Whether or not you get a standard Maori greeting depends upon their plans for the day, it didn’t occur on our journey, however we’ve heard it usually does.

On the other facet of the river is to the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.

Tucked on the highest of a hill, this place has a stellar view.

However even higher, it has sizzling showers, non-public comfy bedrooms and – better of all – a bar!

After 4 days paddling, we thought a glass of wine was properly deserved.

You too can get a home made dinner (we cooked for ourselves because the dinner was dear) and breakfast.

It was pure bliss.

There’s a lounge with board video games and books to learn so it may very well be fairly a social place relying on who’s there on the time.

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere

Day 5: Bridge to Nowhere Lodge – Papriki, 21.5km (about Four hours)

The ultimate day is a brief stretch of river earlier than hitting the 2 roughest rapids of the entire journey, and those that throw out 50% of people that try them.

The day begins out on calm river once more, earlier than reaching Ngāporo the place the primary massive fast is.

The rapids are simply earlier than the campsite and you may select to plough straight via the center for final journey or spherical the skin for the least likelihood of capsize.

It’s not lengthy earlier than you hit the second fast.

We watched two actually eager canoers go head on into the fast, and have been quickly tipped out into the river!

Having misplaced to the fast they swam to catch their canoe and spent the subsequent 5 minutes bailing water out, they have been within the unfortunate 50%!

As soon as extra, you’ll be able to select to undergo it, or paddle huge and thru the safer part.

There’s a last fast that’s simply earlier than the touchdown at Pipriki and is one other enjoyable one to navigate.

In the event you do it proper, you will get propelled to the end, barely having to paddle!

By the point you arrived at Pipriki you’ll have paddled 145 km of the Whanganui River via the gorgeous New Zealand countryside.

It’s an epic journey and one we liked all of the extra for the actual fact you’ll be able to go it alone and not using a information.

Don’t miss probably the most uncommon Nice Stroll of New Zealand.

nature of new zealand

The sights of Whanganui are nothing in need of breathtaking.

In the event you haven’t quenched your thirst for Nice Walks, you’ll be able to try the Tongariro Northern Circuit which is barely 30 minutes away. It is a stroll via volcanic panorama and incorporates the Tongariro Crossing – which has been described as among the finest day walks on this planet.

Joe and Cat

We’re Joe and Cat, two Brits who left the UK with a one-way ticket to Istanbul in 2012. We spent the 12 months making our means via Asia, earlier than ultimately touchdown in Sydney, Australia. After 5 years working Down Below, we obtained itchy toes once more and set out on one other bucket record journey. We lately accomplished the 9 Nice Walks of New Zealand in 9 Weeks and are at all times in search of the subsequent path to hike or mountain to climb. We share our adventures on our weblog Walk My World.

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